There is seeing the destination – and then there is getting there.
It’s a distinction that becomes more and more important as fashion and beauty companies look to a new world and start making more and more dramatic changes.
When Gordon Von Bretten, Director of Transformation at Coty Inc., spoke at the New York Stock Exchange for the company’s investor meeting last week, he blurted out some truth from the C-suite in describing the “All-In to Win” plan covering “costs, cash flow, growth and strategy”.
“Transformation is probably 80% execution and 20% planning,” said Von Bretten, a veteran of the big transformation efforts at private equity giant KKR. “So create that kind of overview or something that a consultant can do in 15 minutes, but that’s not what it is. The plan is 20 percent and the execution is 80 percent. And this is where most businesses fail.
While Coty has her hands full to re-establish herself in beauty, sell off the rest of Wella, and grow with the Kardashian clan, it’s a message that’s also important to others in the industry right now.
Tracking is really the topic of the day in large retail stores as everyone watches Saks Fifth Avenue, which has separated its brick-and-mortar base from its web-based business and is now considering an initial e-commerce public offering. The hope is that the parts collectively are worth much more than the whole, as Wall Street seems willing to pay for e-commerce and nothing else.
The move, apparently well received by many investors, goes against a decade of omnichannel hype that has seen retailers do all they can to bring their clicks and bricks closer together.
Saks’ ambition is clear and echoed by companies across the spectrum. Growing ecommerce businesses are getting insane valuations in the marketplace today, why shouldn’t the bigger, better equipped, and more established players get their own insane valuations?
This strategy – separating e-commerce and reaping big profits – is simple, but execution is something else, requiring dozens of contracts to act as a connective tissue so that retail and the web are always omni and working together. .
Driven by activist investor Jana, Macy’s Inc. is currently exploring a similar move and hired AlixPartners to assess the ramifications of a split, appealing to the board that helped Saks craft his plan.
“We looked at the costs, benefits, execution risks and [potential] of additional shareholder value unlocked. We’ve been working with our board and advisors on this for some time, ”Jeff Gennette, Macy’s president and CEO, told WWD.
If there is a chance of selling part of their business for more than its full value, the CEO of any public company is legally bound to take that into account.
But can we really get out of it?
The divide between strategy and execution is also being felt in luxury now that Farfetch’s José Neves is considering Johann Rupert’s long-standing call to create a luxury-neutral ecommerce platform. Farfetch is in talks that could tie it much more to Rupert’s Compagnie Financière Richemont and its Yoox Net-a-porter division.
Neves and Rupert are both great thinkers and visionaries, but they always face the hard work of not only seeing the future, but building it. In this case, that seems to mean taking on the heavy lifting of consensus building.
Lorenzo Bertelli – son and apparent successor of Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli – has not ruled out the idea of joining an open e-commerce platform.
“I think we can expect them to come and talk to us, we are their partners, but it’s premature, they haven’t even closed the conversation,” said Bertelli. “We are open to any opportunity but the scenario is not yet clear enough to give an answer.”
The opportunity here is the strategy. The answer – if the team’s open platform can get “yes” – is execution.
And that seems to be 80 percent of the job to do.
More from In Fashion:
In fashion: stopping, starting and reinventing the supply chain
In Fashion: Next Generation Control Freaks With A Dream
In fashion: a direct mirage for the consumer?
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